by Antony Johnston, Justin Greenwood and Shari Chankhamma
Antony Johnston is sure that police procedural comics can be just as good as any other story time in the medium. With the end of the third issue, and here in issue four, The Fuse is certainly a great case for the genre. So far, this series has been a lot of fun to follow. Johnston has managed to continue to tease out small details, hinting both at aspects of this case as well as aspects of this world. The pacing has been quite good and issue four continues to impress.
The end of the last issue was quite the twist and brings everyone back to the proverbial drawing board as far as the state of the case. Issue three was filled with secrets and family drama and heading into issue four there was a lot to decipher. Here, readers learn a bit more about Klem Ristovych and hear from a group known as the Fuse Liberation Front. New recruit, Ralph Dietrich, spends some of the issue researching the history of Midway and the entire space community, and through some passing conversation, readers realize that little of what transpires here reaches Earth. More passing comments give a sense of the state of the universe including some remarks about the price of property on Mars. The choices that Johnson has made to pepper in this kind of detail amidst the story are quite effective. There is rarely a moment that passes that doesn’t push the story forward somehow.
The pacing of this story is rather slow. That, however, is a deliberate choice and it is a good fit for the type of tale it is. Johnston’s structure and approach to this mystery is from the right place, releasing only pieces of information at a time, but in a way that makes the story feel as engaging as one filled with action. A few more clues are discovered here and a lot of fingers begin to be pointed. Suddenly, Rocky Swanson is tied up a lot of ugliness. His brother is one of the dead cablers, his wife is having an affair, and his chief of security is recently dead. If Johnston set out to convince the world that comic books are the perfect medium for a procedural, The Fuse has been the way to convince.
Moving the story along with such pacing relies heavily on the artists who are responsible for depicting these scenes. Justin Greenwood and Shari Chankhamma make for a very good art team. The story has a lot of sequences of conversations and investigating that can feel a little stunted. Greenwood and Chankhamma are able to push the story forward regardless of the events taking place. In issue four, readers see a sequence in a park, and considering the circumstances of the setting, it is an odd scene that Greenwood and Chankhamma handle well.
After four issues, readers are finding themselves going deeper and deeper into this thing and it is looking like that issue five will continue that trend in the most literal sense.